[pdftex] pdftex compression -- proposed addition to manual

Greg Black gjb at gbch.net
Sat Aug 25 16:12:13 CEST 2001

"M. Wroth" wrote:

| One of the *reasons* I'm a believer in literate programming is that it both 
| gives good facilities for and strongly encourages good commenting.

Good commenting can be done in *any* programming convention; the
decisions about how to comment and what to comment still have to
be made by the humans doing the programming.

Good comments don't make good code; good code can be read easily
by those who are fluent in the language.

| Of course, there is a self-selection bias in that -- people who voluntarily 
| use literate programming are likely to write more comments anyway.

More comments does not mean good comments.  And excess comments
usually indicate poor code; and far too often they get out of
synch with the code, at which point they become a hindrance.

| *IIRC in his original article Knuth commented that one of the reasons he 
| chose the term "literate programming" is that he was tired of being accused 
| of writing "unstructured" programs

He was writing unstructured programs.  Many people still feel
that this was a bad choice.  It certainly resulted in one of the
worst programming languages ever invented --- I love using TeX
and I have taught myself to program it, but I loathe it.

| So he called this style "literate programming", because no one 
| would want to be accused of writing an "illiterate" program.

I couldn't care less if he calls my code illiterate --- it's
maintainable, it works, it doesn't have bugs.  Pejorative terms
won't change any of that.  DEK has had many brilliant ideas and
he has made many important contributions to computer science,
but the "literate programming" idea was just plain wacko and
deserves to die.

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